When I think of ‘bad boys” in the NBA, my mind goes to the old Detroit Pistons teams of the ’90s. I never felt the Portland Trail Blazers were of the same magnitude. The difference might be how we define bad boys. Attitude and cockiness sure factor in and that is my thought on Detroit but in Portland, you also have to add bad play. The TrailBlazer not only had a chip on their shoulders but they actually weren’t very good.
Author Kerry Eggers was there when this was happening in Portland. He shares with the readers many of the details of what was being said and how players were reacting to the fans, management, and media.
The problem for this team came the moment they hired Bob Whitsitt as their General Manager. He never worried about if any of his players were good citizens or not. He didn’t mind if they were in the forefront of the media due to brushes with the law. All he wanted was talented basketball players.
Talent is paramount in the National Basketball Association. There is no doubt about it. But Whitsitt failed to recognize that many times the players allowed outside forces to bother them on the court.
The team won 60% of their games for a while but would self-destruct in any type of playoff situation. Whitsitt told a writer that he “didn’t study chemistry” in school. In other words, we just want players. One example comes from Rasheed Wallace as he told the media that the players didn’t give a damn about what the fans thought. They would still ask for autographs. Translated that appears to be a statement they will do what they want and still get paid and adored by fans.
There was always a tint of the racial element with players like Damon Stoudemire, Zach Randolph, and Wallace. The fans were deeply disappointed in their play and their inability to become role models.
The book comes in a bit over average as I realize some believe it is the book of the year. I found it a bit too admiring of those players and the lifestyle they lived. The true Jail Blazers.
About the Author: Kerry Eggers is a sportswriter that covered the Portland sports for more than forty years. He wrote for the Portland Tribune since it started in 2001. He is a five-time winner of the Oregon Sportswriter of the Year Award. He is the author of six books, including Blazer Profiles, Clyde the Glide, andThe Civil War Rivalry: Oregon vs Oregon State.
Thanks to Sports Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for an honest book review.